Visionary Artist Dan Rhema

I just got word that Dan Rhema is posting his autobiography, When I Was A Ghost, My Journey Back from the Other Side on his website  He’s just posted the first chapter and will be post them regularly.  I reviewed his ebook I Close My Eyes to See last October on my ChronicallyInspired blog.  I thought this would be a good time to re-post hereIt’s a gorgeous book filled with color and hope.  Illness can be a devastating life changing event — or it can be a metamorphosis into a new life.  I love how art in its many forms became the saving grace for Rhema and I look forward to reading his bio.


 (Told through a unique pairing of Dan’s words with over one hundred pieces of his art, I Close My Eyes To See is the story of Dan’s extraordinary journey from near death to new life.  I Close My Eyes To See is designed for the ipad and color tablet format and is best viewed in the vertical mode. It can be read on NOOKcolor, Nook for ipad, Nook for PC and, on iphones and android phones. It is now available on, and will soon be released on the itunes bookstore)

I Close My Eyes to See:  The Dan Rhema Story as told to Kevin Wilson

Dan Rhema contacted me over a month ago to ask if I would review his ebook, I Close My Eyes to See.  Unfortunately I didn’t have time at the moment.  And from first glance, I knew that it would be a very interesting read so I wanted to make sure I could read it on a calm day when I wouldn’t be distracted.  Now that I’ve read – or I should say experienced the whole book — I wish I’d had time sooner.
Dan Rhema is an extraordinary artist and storyteller who suffered a life altering illness and near-death experience.  In 1991, he was living with his wife and 3 daughters in Mexico, directing an international training center.  An epidemic of Dengue fever spread through the town and he contracted 3 different strains of fever, which deteriorated into meningitis and encephalitis.
He says, “I traveled out of my body and began journeying down a long dark tunnel. As I progressed down the tunnel, I remember thinking that I did not want to die without my wife and children being with me. My progress down the tunnel ended and I began the long struggle back to consciousness, one level at a time.”

His illnesses ravaged his memory, which became “like swiss cheese,” with holes and detours.  Things he remembered were out of context and disjointed.  He felt like his head was on fire.  He felt like he was floating and had to grip the headboard of his bed to rest.
Before the fever he was very minimalist in his possessions, afterwards he was compelled to collect objects all the time.  At a family reunion, he discovered he could remember things if he put them in a story.

He began to keep a dream journal.  Although before the fever he never did art work, he began to create assemblages that took on a life of their own.  He began to paint – with his fingers like a child.  These compulsions made him fear he was going crazy, but through them he began to be able to reconnect aspects of his life and mind and soul.
He had created 15 sculptures before Susan found an article on outsider and visionary art and it gave him hope that he wasn’t going insane.

He was re-creating himself.  And this book is a beautiful telling of how he did so.  The text is minimalist and the story unfolds through the art.
This is the first “art” book I’ve read on the computer.  I don’t have a Kindle, or Nook or any kind of eReader.  I read this on my computer with Adobe Reader and the images came through beautifully.

The sculptures are muted and have a floating quality; the paintings are bright and imbued with intense energy.  There is a narrative quality to each, and a mystery.  The art tells the story not so much of survival but of rebirth.  There are deep spiritual overtones.  Dan seems to have a firm foot in this world and that world beyond mortal life.  I know I will read and look at this beautiful book again.  I am especially grateful to have experienced this book as we go rushing into the holiday season and are inundated with mixed messages about rebirth and gift giving.  This book is a real gift, unique and hard-won, that floats between reality and unreality; that celebrates the mystery of the future and the divinity of the present.
And I’m really looking forward to reading his children’s books.
You read more about Dan Rhema at

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